The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry notified the team of researchers at RIKEN Nishina Center for Accelerator-Based Science in Japan that it would have the honor in naming Element 113. Ununtrium, the provisional name of Element 113, is a highly radioactive element that is not found in nature.
Ununtrium (Latin for "one one three") is an element that can only be made in the labs and is not found in nature. This element is located in the west of the periodic table. These area of the periodic table is home to superheavy synthetic elements, which have no practical use because these elements decay too fast due to their short half-lives. Ununtrium is between copernicium and flevorium.
The researchers at RIKEN headed by Kosuke Morita had been synthesizing unutrium since 2003. They were using a linear accelerator to bombard bismuth with zinc ions traveling at around 10 percent of the speed of light. Producing an atom of Element 113 is a difficult task because the half-lives of the element are extremely short at 1/1000 second.
"Now that we have conclusively demonstrated the existence of Element 113, we plan to look to the unchartered territory of element 119 and beyond," Morita said.
This should be good news for RIKEN because they have been swamped with controversy from the stem-cell research scandal. The research institution had gone under reorganization after the said scandal.
"To scientists, this is of greater value than an Olympic gold medal," Ryoji Noyori, former RIKEN president and Nobel laureate in chemistry told reporters.
RIKEN had earlier released a statement that "japonium" might be the proposed as the final name of ununtrium. However, Morita still has no specific candidates as the name of the element. He plans to spend part of next year in considering the name of the element. Scientists in Russia as well as American researchers also had been vying for the naming rights since 2004.